ICRPS 2015 launched at University College Dublin on Sunday 21 June with an informal welcoming dinner at the Morehampton Brasserie in Donnybrook south Dublin convened by James Breen the ICRPS 2015 coordinator from University College Dublin (UCD). After filling a Dublin bus for the trip from campus to the restaurant we had a great meal. In traditional ICRPS style the initial evening meal set the stage for Day One on Monday.
On Monday morning the UCD Science Building provided a room set up with 10 large round dining tables indicating immediately that this ICRPS would have an interactive classroom dynamic.
After introductions by students and faculty the formal opening began at 10:30 with words of welcome from Alex Evans Head of the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, and Cathal O’Donoghue from Teagasc, Rural Economy and Development Programme. These were followed by a welcome from Mairead McGuinness, Vice-President of the European Parliament and a member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. She described Ireland’s ongoing engagment with land and agriculture, the ups and downs of the irish economy, and Ireland’s position in the European Union. The floor was open to questions and the discussion focused on Irish agriculture and the environment. We all then made our way outside for the inaugural ICRPS 2015 group photo.
After James Breen’s review of the program for the coming two weeks we settled in for an introduction to Ireland and the EU featuring Karen Keaveney from UCD who gave us the long view on Irish history; Cathal O’Donoghue from Teagasc who presented Irish agricultural policy; David Stead from UCD who introduced Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy Pillar 1; and Pat Bogue from Broadmore Research who discussed CAP Pillar 2. This was followed by Tom Johnson, Professor of agricultural and applied economics and policy analysis at the University of Missouri and Ray Bollman (Statistics Canada (retired) and Brandon University) discussing data on predominantly rural regions across OECD countries.
Ireland was again featured on Day Two with presentations on Irish policy formation and Irish social indicators by Pat O’Hara, Chair of the National Statistics Board and Jim Walsh from the Department of Social Protection. We also heard more on Irish agriculture from Eamonn Farell of the Irish Cooperative Organization Society and Michael Murphy of the Irish Food Board (Bord Bia) who introduced the Ireland Origin Green initiative and the hopes for the promotion of Irish grass fed beef and dairy to international markets based on a commitment to sustainability by the entire Irish agricultural value chain. But broader rural policy topics and comparison were not forgotten. Ray Bollman introduced the perennial questions: What is policy? What is comparative policy? What is rural? Students then made presentations on the institutions of government and governance in their home countries or countries with which they were familiar. There were also reviews of contemporary rural economic challenges in Ireland by David Merideth and the United States by Judy Stallmann from the University of Missouri. Matt Fannin from Louisiana State ended the day with a overview of policies to support recovery from natural disasters in the United States and Europe.
Days one and two were filled with a range of complex foundational issues on rural policy. Tomorrow…. field trips begin… the other exciting side of ICRPS.